HOME BASE? HITS
By TOBY WALKER
PLANS to transform the northern entrance to South Grafton into a retail precinct moved a step closer yesterday with Clarence Valley Council's planning committee lending its support to rezone land adjacent to the Pacific Highway.
Next Tuesday, councillors will consider the rezoning application for a 700 square-metre retail store and four food outlets at council's monthly meeting.
The land received rezoning approval for a Hungry Jacks in 2003, but plans to develop the site were left on hold.
Sydney-based developer Patarm Pty Ltd purchased the 3000 square-metre vacant lot on the corner of the Pacific Highway and Spring and Iolanthe streets from developer JLB Group four months ago.
According to Patarm director Brett Cooper, the plan was to build a retail development to complement the Bunnings store being constructed on land adjacent to the site.
"We'd like to see a precinct where people can come, park at Bunnings, park in our centre and they'll actually walk across the road, so from an RTA point of view it will mean a lot less traffic on the roads which are fairly heavily congested as it is," he said.
Mr Cooper said confidentiality agreements prevented him from disclosing the names of the businesses that would occupy the development if approved by council, but revealed four of the five tenants would be new to Grafton.
He estimated between 50 and 70 jobs would be created by the new retail space.
"We've taken the view to work with council and not against them," he said.
"We actually had a meeting with the mayor (Ian Tiley) before we put pen to paper to have discussions with him and senior members of the council staff to get their visions for the site."
Cr Tiley said the Roads and Traffic Authority would no doubt want to examine the traffic impacts of the development more closely, but was supportive of the application.
He also stressed that, as an entrance into Grafton, the development would have to satisfy aesthetically appealing design guidelines and avoid the 'concrete box' look ? something Mr Cooper said had been addressed already.
"This project reflects a retailing trend over the past 10 years and is indicative of how this sort of marketing is going and I think we should be supportive of it," said council's planning director Rob Donges.